A Free-Market Energy Blog

Wind Turbines in Court: What Are the Issues?

By Sherri Lange -- October 3, 2019

The plaintiffs claim that developers built the project too close to their homes and as a result, have created a number of hazards and adverse health effects, including sleep disturbance, annoyance, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, motion sickness, bodily sensations, fatigue, stress, depression, memory deficits, inability to concentrate, anxiety and an overall reduced quality of life. The complaint says that these effects are largely due to the shadow flicker and loud noise that comes from the turbines when they are in motion.

As if the news for wind developers weren’t seriously bad enough: 1200 layoffs at Siemens and Vestas, controlled demolitions of demonstration size, mega size turbines in Scotland, deemed too dangerous to remain in place, planned demolition of another demonstration single turbine in Pickering Ontario, because leaving it in situ is dangerous, and communities all over the world railing against rate payer gouging, toxic homes, damaged health, harmed or dead animals, or even forced displacement. News comes this week of 100 community members from the town of Arkwright, and villages of Cassadaga, Fredonia, Forestville, who have filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Mayville. The suit lists “Arkwright Wind Power,  EDP Renewables, Arkwright Summit Wind Farm LLC, Horizon Wind Energy LLC, Tetra Tec EC Inc., Tetra Tech ES Inc., Tetra Tech Construction Inc., URS Corp, West Inc.,  Fisher Associates P.E., L.S., L.A. of New York, P.C., Fisher Associates, P.E., L.S., L.A., D.P.C., White Construction of Indiana LLC, and any other corporations who may be liable to the plaintiffs.” The plaintiffs are about 60 families and represent 100 persons.

This suit must be more than a little discomfiting, given the general pushback in North America by communities, public health agencies such as Madison IOWA, declaring that wind turbines can cause harm, and arguing for larger setbacks. With Facebook and Twitter ‘pile-on’ news dissemination impacts, we wonder if damage control is even possible. (It is also a piece of bad news for Governor Cuomo, who sees wind and solar as a beacon of “renewables” heaven in ambitious and implausible plans to curb emissions.)  Additionally, the cumulative harm is being documented worldwide, such as by victims in Ontario (Special Report, Health Crisis in Ontario, to the Right Honorable Premier Doug Ford, 352 pages of personal accounts of harm).  (This report contains sensitive material from victims and is not available online. Its process and conclusions will be outlined shortly on the NA-PAW website. A hard copy is set to be delivered to President Donald Trump.)

THE ARKWRIGHT SUIT

In this reporting of the far-reaching possibly game changing suit, Legal Council, Ms. Westfall of Syracuse attests:

 “Upon information and belief, the wind turbines are causing such significant problems and/or injuries that residents and property owners, including the Plaintiffs, are continuing to have many difficulties on their properties, real property values have been significantly compromised, and some residents were even forced to leave their homes and/or sell them at a loss; among other damages as set forth in this complaint.”  

Forty-seven turbines were erected in 2018, and since that time promises by the developer that the turbines would not be “noisy,” have proven false. Among the assertions by Westfall, newer more up to date noise studies were not completed, the well-known fierce winter winds off Lake Erie, undue proximity to homes, and noise studies did not take into account ILFN (Infra and Low Frequency Noise). Some residents were forced from homes, lost values or homes.  Westfall notes that “real estate values have been significantly compromised.”

Master Resource noted in a previous article, that the lawsuits would be expected even on this one aspect of loss: property loss. In that post, we noted that Eric Bibler of Save Our Seashore invites us to Google search, wind turbine lawsuit: the result is a staggering ONE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND (his caps). We correctly predicted that loss of property values, loss of enjoyment and impacts to health would lead the suits.

TRESPASS, NUISANCE, NEGLIGENCE

A brief summary of the near 30 pages of complaints in the 78 pages. You can read the entire submission to the NY Supreme Court, Chautauqua County here.

  • creating a private nuisance, creating a public nuisance and trespassing, with the residents alleging workers entered onto and damaged some properties during construction without compensation for damages.
  • Plaintiffs allege that they own and, therefore, have a lawful right to possess the real property on which they live or own. Plaintiffs allege that the giant wind turbines that defendants have placed around their property results in a trespass by the defendants due to invasion of their land by noises, lights, flickering, and low-frequency vibrations which penetrate their homes, thereby destroying the use and enjoyment of the plaintiffs’ land; among other trespass
  • Damage to water wells, water unfit for consumption
  • Shadow flicker and audible noise
  • Loss of TV reception
  • Possible condemnation of a property due to damage to septic system
  • Appearance of new creeks on the same property that will need to be diverted at a cost
  • Costs must be undertaken to monitor existing and future medical care
  • Loss of business income, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

The lawyer asserts that all plaintiffs are entitled to damages related to the “diminution of property values,” as well as loss of use and enjoyment, forced relocation expenses, and destruction of scenic countryside.

There are of course, many more suits worldwide, but our purpose here is to outline the valuable and clear and precise language of this Arkwright suit, and to focus on the fact that developers must increasingly face the clear list(s) of harm. There will be redress.

A heartfelt plea from a now 12-year-old boy from Arkwright in this video tells us his deep concern about loss of “home”.

“I have spent my 11 years on earth in this town. My parents have worked so hard for the place we have. They’ve made the land that I live on home. And these wind turbines they are destroying it. My grandmother was born and lived briefly not even a half mile from where I live right now. But I just can’t stand the thought of being forced away from my home and my town by these windmills. I went out two days ago and I can’t even have peace and quiet without the sound of bulldozers and cranes.  I don’t want to be forced from my home and I am sure none of you would like to be forced form yours. Thank you.”

A comment on Facebook to this video: (Caps by author) “THEY PLAN TO PUT OVER 300 650 FT. TALL INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES IN STEUBEN CO. NY. THE WHOLE STATE WILL LOOK LIKE THE MOVIE WAR OF THE WORLDS. SAD BUT TRUE.  GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN. CORRUPT NY.”

THE NEW YORK PLAN

New York’s ambitious plans to achieve 70% renewables by 2030, are well known. This is “pie in the sky” factoring. You can cover New York with turbines, and solar panels, and still have a minor percentile of energy. Multiples of useless machines only continues the stagnancy. Please remember to factor in parasitic power use by turbines, the magnitude of fossil fuel use to maintain and operate, and clean the blades, and back up power 100% of the time, and you may have a larger sense of the utter hollowness of this claim. “The state has set ambitious targets for renewable energy, but it received less than 5 percent of its electricity from wind and solar last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.”

(The push to pepper the east coast with turbines added to the intense interest of international players, is now under way, but that is being met with fierce opposition. We will write about Vineyard Wind shortly. Its prognosis is, as one wrote, very much, “in doubt.”)

CONCLUSION

Small towns, communities are reshaping zoning and setback ordinances, protesting, challenging the injustice in the courts. It is, after all, a robbery. And all the actions matter:  each deliberate step away from the lies of the wind industry. Clearly the voices of dissent are louder, more effective, and more cohesive. The hollow calls of the industry that we must move to “renewables” as a “climate decision,” a health decision, an environmental decision, no longer have currency.  It (wind power) is likely the largest scam of the modern age, and sadly a gift that will keep on giving, as clean up of landfills, water wells, and degraded communities, homes, and lives, continues. We wish the people of Arkwright, and villages of Cassadaga, Fredonia, Forestville, God Speed in their suit.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”  Edmund Burke.

17 Comments


  1. Denis Rushworth  

    Chautauqua County is the western-most county of New York State, hundreds of miles from Albany and New York City. The noise does not reach that far so I am sure that Cuomo in Albany and dwellers in NYC are unconcerned.

    Reply

  2. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks, Denis. How true. Often victims of wind invite politicians to their homes, to stay for a week, and experience the impacts. This is just in from Germany, where the impacts of ILFN (Infra and Low Frequency Noise) are making alarming notice in the countryside. We have also had reports from France. Yet to be verified, but alarming. If animals are impacted, as the American woman/activist in Germany states, why also would people not be having impacts?

    QUOTE: “Very alarming are the reports of clusters of children in rural areas being born with malformed limbs. No explanation to date has been found and the possibility that it might be due to wind turbine emitted infra-sound has not even been mentioned in the press. Malformation clusters were reported near Gelsenkirchen in Germany and in three areas in France, all of which have wind turbines nearby. Considering that there are many reports of malformations in domestic animals near wind turbines it seems plausible that it is only a matter of time before the same thing happens to humans. We are extending our feelers for more cases in Germany, but this is not easy. Two weeks ago folks claiming to be damaged by infra-sound were the butt of jokes in a television comedy show. The tenor was: what can you expect from people whose brains get turned to mush through infra-sound. ”

    So the question is: how do we get urban persons to enlist their growing knowledge and conscience? How to get Albany and much of NY to hear these messages, these lawsuits? They are saying Facebook and social media are seriously impacting messaging from wind developers, and even slowing project development. Perhaps that is one route.

    Reply

  3. jon boone  

    Thanks, Sherri. To complement your fine article here, I’m posting below the last paragraphs of a speech I gave in Fredonia, New York, a dozen years ago–to the week. That the state continues to be infested by these Cuomonstrousties is a tribute to how bunco can be harnessed to fool most of the people virtually all the time. For shame.

    My opposition to this technology is a considered response to the fact it doesn’t work very well, even as an occasional fuel substitute, certainly not commensurate with the damage it causes and the monies it drains from rate and taxpayers.Like many celebrities born of spin, it’s famous for being famous, not for its actual performance. Chautauqua County could absorb 500 wind turbines, each more than 400 feet tall and spread over 100 miles, with blades spinning 175 mph at their tips. Together, these might annually provide about250MW of highly sporadic energy to the state’s 37,000MW power grid, unable, however, to replace any conventional power, including coal, since they will have virtually no effective capacity, and with no hard evidence they would save any carbon emissions throughout the grid system. Their massive footprint will transform the landscape, changing its appearance from scenes of nature into one dominated by industrial machinery. How green is this? In the process, nearby property values will plummet while a number of residents will experience relentless noise, at times exceeding the legal limit. The county will likely receive only a fraction of promised revenues and taxes (officials should carefully scrutinize promised PILOT payments), and it’s extremely unlikely the wind facilities will employ more than a handful of county residents or union workers. And like all tall structures that are lit at night, they will kill thousands of migrating birds and especially bats. All of these problems have been well documented—many of them admitted in “confidential” property leases that exculpate wind companies for creating them. This is dystopia, a nightmare, and not effective energy policy.

    How could this happen? Recall the song Razzle Dazzle from the movie, Chicago.Were you given a “splendiferous” show, blinded by sequins of blandishment, dazed and dizzied by the “Big Bambooz-a-ler?” This is such beautiful county, historically tended with pride by people who enjoy rural community and are bonded by a love of natural beauty. That you would allow corporate hucksters to foul your nest, exploiting your desire to improve the environment while seeking your approval to wreck it, should not be a casual thing to do. You should not confuse the trappings of science—the engineering grandeur of a huge wind turbine, for example—with the real work of science, which would skeptically insist upon verifying the machine’s performance.The politicalization of electricity production, which is what is happening here, corrupts any reasonable sense of enlightened public policy, driven as it is by propagandized sloganeering and a press that much of the time couldn’t hit water with an accurate story if it fell out of a boat. New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the politically correct renewable energy oversight group within the state’s PSC, has become one of those grotesque bureaucracies that exist to justify its existence, generating gratuitous inaccuracies about the potential for wind energy in much the same way Cinderella’s step sisters connived to make that damned slipper fit their outsized feet. NYSERDA’s levy of a renewable energy surcharge is nothing more than a legalized bunko scheme for defrauding consumers.

    Chautauqua County represents low hanging fruit for distant wind capital seeking to exploit the people and resources of rural America, made even more shameless by the Orwellian charge that those who oppose its intrusions are NIMBYs when the corporate shills themselves live hundreds of miles away. If industrial wind succeeds here, it will be because the gullible are led by the pretentious, a process made easier because of a lack of accountability, no penalty for lying, and the pervasive vacuity of our political culture. Roger Tory Peterson would be irate about the pretentious environmental footpecking enabling this scam technology. The bill of goods for industrial wind, presented by the forces of ignorance and greed, resembles nothing as much as that fire-breathing dragon in your garage.

    Reply

  4. Sommer  

    Thank you Sherri.
    If your readers would view the livestream of the presentation given by Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira, expert on LFN and infrasound, recorded on September 12, 2019 at the University of Waterloo, at the request of Professor Richard Mann-

    https://livestream.com/itmsstudio/events/8781285

    -they would see that the issue of liability for cumulative and irreversible harm will become a legal liability for all who are responsible for having allowed these turbines to be sited too close to peoples’ homes.

    Reply

  5. Sherri Lange  

    Jon Boone: brilliant. YES, bunco, garbage mythology, propaganda, you have used all the best words. Reminds me of other analogies to large scale fraud: Just to pluck a few: in the 1800s, Sarah Howe’s savings bank, Ladies Deposit Company, targeted unmarried women. This charity promised 8% per month for a Charity that did not exist. She served 3 years in prison, then attempted a few more schemes, arrested again, or running, and eventually became a fortune teller until her passing in 1892; William Miller, 520 Percent William, promised 10% PER WEEK interest, and was often compared with Ponzi, ten years for that one; Charles Ponzi we all know. Fourteen years in prison, promised to double investors money in 90 days, bilking 8 million out of about 30,000 investors IN SEVEN MONTHS. The list of course is interminable. However, the scale of the turbine (and solar) scheme is such that we really have never seen. It is a global scam, insidious, harming every living thing in its path, promising of course, cleaner air, green, safe and responsible electricity, to rid of us CO2, which is not even a contaminate by itself. The tally I suspect will never be done. How could it be? And how does one tally the cost to agriculture from lost healthy bat insect munching “wealth?” 1,000 insects or more per hour. Then cost in the hospital visits, lost farms, lost animals, husbanded pets, millions, billions of birds, even lost insect life as reported in Germany. The entire chain or web disrupted with unforeseen consequences at this time.

    Another Facebook comment reported today: Partial.

    “We are being run over by modern day pirates ..EDP… they come, they destroy, they pillage, they leave when they get what they want, and move one to a new place to destroy and pillage. Our politicians sadly sanction it…. at every level…. municipal … they threw in the towel and negotiated what our lives, homes and wildlife would be worth… provincial… forced an unwilling host community to host these turbines by creating the the Green Energy Act followed by an MPP who also threw in the towel…couldn’t put in any effort to even try to stop this madness…. We have been sold out…our neighbors that leased their lands …sold us out. .Everyone else is benefiting some how , some way…but not us….we get the noise, destroyed land, blocked roads, constant dirt and dust, monstrous eyesores in our sunrises and sunsets, health risks with infra sound and changes in our well water. We don’t get paid to deal with this… we didn’t want it. WE DID NOT SELL OURSELVES OR OUR NEIGHBORS. But yet here we are… how much time we have spent trying to fight this…researching…reading all we can to get a grasp of the reality that was coming…Imagine for a moment….if this had not happened…”

    Reply

  6. Sherri Lange  

    Pauli Sommer: thank you again for the reminder of Mariana Alves-Pereira’s wonderful presentation. Please watch this. It is cutting edge info and cannot be refuted. Please watch her comments to questions also at the end. Just as illuminating.

    Reply

  7. Sherri Lange  

    Pauli Sommer, thank you again. (Please excuse if this is a duplicate return comment)

    Please watch the video of Dr. Alves-Pereira at University of Waterloo. It is beyond question that ILFN is harming all living things. Please hang into the end, and watch the Q and A. It is equally illuminating.

    Reply

  8. Michael Spencley  

    God bless the people of Arkwright, Cassadaga, Fredonia, Forestville for forming a legal resistance and filing suit against their local industrial wind turbine developers and enablers. The filter of a legal “Statement of Claim” shines light and clarity on the atrocious problems caused by industrial wind turbines.

    Not surprisingly, Urbanites have always chosen rural areas for garbage dump-sites in order to avoid the unsightly, noisy, and smelly scars on their own urban landscapes. It follows true to form that rural and small-town America are now chosen as dump-sites for this horrible Frankensteinian industry of industrial wind turbines.

    Kudos to Sherri Lange and Master Resource for bringing this legal action to light. This is a highly important article that needs to be shared and distributed widely.

    Reply

  9. Sherri Lange  

    Many thanks, Michael. We fear the worst is yet to come, forcing BESS Storage on rural spaces as well. But that is an entire story unto itself. Slick advertising, propaganda, accrues daily. NY supports zero emission vehicles, 3 million; $121 MILLION in Green bonds for sustainable projects at Cornell; City of Buffalo and Erie County among 16 new Certified “Smart” Communities; Cuomo announces winners of 76West Clean Energy Competition; NY Partners with DK and Ireland to improve grids; 76 Million Dollars for comprehensive Energy Efficiency at Stony Brook U. The list goes on.

    Oft quoted Noam Chomsky: “We should not underestimate the capacity of well-run propaganda systems to drive people to irrational, murderous, and suicidal behavior.”

    Reply

  10. Mark Twichell  

    The Arkwright story is a tragedy 15 years in the making. Two different wind developers come and go without substantive findings. A protective wind law is drafted at personal expense by a concerned planning board only to be discarded without comment by the town supervisor and the wind attorney. Ten Arkwright municipal officers are disclosed by New York State Attorney General with over $4 million in collective financial interest. Now comes the nuisance law attorney to relieve the deserving victims who will receive undisclosed awards for undisclosed specific harms.

    Reply

  11. Cha yoshimura  

    So is there any law in the United States that can stop them from building turbines close to homes? Kahuku town on the island of Oahu in State of Hawaii is experiencing AES Na Pua Makani building 568 ft tall turbines approx 700+ feet away from dwelling. Where and who has the authority to stop them. In our case, they seem to breeze through getting permits even though communities had opposed the project from the beginning. So what are those meetings for? Corruption at its core? Don’t want to think that, but leaning that way.

    Reply

  12. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks, Mark. So true, 15 years in the making. And a few short years to destroy lives. Financial improper interest by Municipal Officers. The corruption sinks deep and spreads wide. Attorneys, we need them. Yes, they will partake, but who else can cut through the stench of collusion and back room deals. There are so many legals out there, it is at heavy levels now, and I say, bring it on. Swamp the courts, because sooner or later the Judiciary will take note.

    So see this one: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/12/how-a-massive-amazon-wind-farm-will-change-a-rural-town-in-america.html

    This piece is a mammoth propaganda scale advertisement. Look what good things come to rural America, dressed as wind projects.

    “In April, Amazon announced three new wind farm projects — two overseas, and one in the Tehachapi (teh-HATCH-ah-pee) Mountains, located in southern California. The farms will help contribute to Amazon’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and 100% renewables by 2030.

    The mountain range is a hub for the wind industry, with around 4,731 turbines that produce about 3,200 megawatts of electricity along the mountain range, according to the Center for Land Use Interpretation, with private companies flocking to the area because of the high wind speeds. Farther north is the Altamont Pass wind farm, which helps power another tech giant: Alphabet’s Google.”

    This also sends a chill. How to disengage from the carbon lies? Climate lies? That is the question.

    Reply

  13. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks for commenting, Cha Yoshimura. You are asking a seriously important question. The “setbacks” for industrial wind are as varied as you can imagine. These are usually local decisions, and some states are now working towards that level of engagement and protection. The windies are inside governments as a very strong lobby, and bending ears every day. Iowa, for example, is struggling with should setbacks be state mandated. So far, this is a tug of war, everywhere, with little end in sight just now.Madison County is standing up, indicating that yes, there are harmful impacts, and that a 1.5 mile setback would be useful. MidAmerican developer says this will not be useful for their projects, and that in effect, this kind of setback, if it spreads to other counties, will be a “damper” to other projects as well.

    They say, the “proposed setback “would completely wipe out any future wind development in Iowa,” if other Iowa counties were to adopt the greater distance requirement, said Adam Jablonski, director of MidAmerican’s renewable energy program.”

    Please see our MR post on the testimony of cardiologist Ben Johnson.
    https://www.masterresource.org/wind-turbine-noise-issues/health-effects-of-wind-turbines-testimony-of-ben-johnson-versus-mid-american-energy-project-in-madison-country-iowa/

    So the comment re Hawaii really reflects a lot of the sad realities: Developers are getting away with murder, and have fewer restrictions on development than, I think, more than any other kind of industrial project. I could go on about the lack of safety, health, fire projections, and so on, including oil and lubricant leaks, turbine collapses, turbine blade “liberations” and so on.

    Please tell us what is the level of opposition? Is there a group we can talk with about this proposed project? It sounds hideous. Thank you so much for alerting us.

    Reply

  14. Sherri Lange  

    https://stopthesethings.com/2019/10/13/court-out-noise-affected-neighbours-pursue-class-action-against-lying-wind-developers/
    https://stopthesethings.com/2018/09/15/victorian-vengeance-neighbours-launch-multi-million-noise-nuisance-law-suit-against-wind-farm-operator-local-council/

    A few pertinent comments:

    “Tormented by wind turbine noise for years, a group of Victorian farmers have launched Supreme Court action seeking $millions in damages.

    The community surrounding the Bald Hills wind farm, built by a Japanese developer, Mitsui and Co, have been tortured by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound since March 2015, when its 52, 2 MW Senvion MM92 turbines spun into action.

    Neighbours started complaining to the developer about noise, straightaway.

    But, as is their wont, the developer and its goons simply rejected the mounting complaints and carried on regardless. As we explain below, that callousness will soon come back to bite them.

    Locals, however, were not perturbed.

    Instead, they lawyered up. Engaging the feisty and tenacious Dominica Tannock.”

    That was in August 2017. Twelve months later, it was determined independently that the turbine noise does constitute a “nuisance,” and that the Council is liable under the Public Health and Well being Act. 2008.

    It’s a gripping story of David and Goliath. But windies are getting away with less in the courts than before. Two and a half years later, the locals’ grievances were supported as valid, and justified.

    Reply

  15. Sherri Lange  

    While the evacuations of homes, and dislocation of persons, and disruption of communities, and death of birds and pets and livestock continues: template with this story. Some profit taking, I would say. The scam needs to be fully exposed. Michael Polsky Invenergy CEO, sells Miami Beach Home for 24 million. Hope he will spend some of his profits helping those whose lives he may have destroyed.

    https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/invenergy-ceo-michael-polsky-sells-miami-beach-home-for-24-million-204766?fbclid=IwAR2hZGcx_5lfV54AwhrX4IPhJ-yp1tLs1UjJ4JKv6ZpH61YbPwFPPqhzu8o

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  16. Bryan Coover  

    Thanks for the report. The Arkwright wind farm situation scares us to death. To us, it is the story of our future.
    I live in Neosho County Kansas, near a small town, Galesburg. Apex set its eyes on 100 square miles of beautiful, peaceful, quiet rural Kansas. Over 300 homes dot the countryside and another 200 makeup the town of Galesburg and Thayer, all in the footprint of 139 Vestas 2.2 MW, 607 foot tall, 400 foot diameter wind turbines.
    Vestas’ own ice throw study shows that lethal sized ice chunks will be thrown off up to 2592 feet from these turbines. A ‘liberated blade part’ could travel farther due to aurodynamic forces. But for $1,000,000/year our county has decided to overlook these facts and approved a home setback of 1640 feet and a road setback of 668 feet. GCube insurance, a major wind insurer, indicates that over the life of the operation, we can expect 2 blade failures per year. Potential icing conditions are common for 3 months of the year.
    On top of this we are promised a maximum 48 dBa Leq sound level, which will basicly result in nighttime sound levels 4 to 5 times the WHO maximum recommendation.
    I guess we are in trouble. Immediately after our 2 appointed county commissioners(another story) voted to approve this disaster, a group of concerned citizen filed a lawsuit to stop construction. As that lawsuit winds its way through the system, construction has begun in order to capture the PTC which expires this year.
    To my knowledge, we are the only action underway around the county trying to halt a wind farm before it becomes operational. If you are interested, I could forward a copy of the lawsuit and keep you posted. Bryan Coover, Neosho County Concerned Citizens, personal cell 620-778-1128

    Reply

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